2-2-4-2-Public Scripture Reading
Public Scripture Reading. This lesson will teach you some of the reasons for this activity as well as preparation for the leader.
Are you happy with how things are going in the times we are facing. Well if you are reading this I can assume that you are not. You like me I’m sure; are looking at the world we live in, and see many challenges:
The physical world. We are facing enviromental problems that are monumental. There doesn’t seem to be any answers that will be accepted by all the people and implemented. The social world. Crime is running rampant in almost all locations. There is very few places to hide from it. The moral world. We are more concerned about what we own; then how we can help each other. The economic world. There are more people below the poverty line then above it. The Spiritual world. Our “spirits” are deeply challenged with the challenges we face. The mental world. Our schools are in trouble. The communication world. We are more interested in discussing how we can have more pleasure then how we can solve the challenges. Our health. We have as many or more health problems then our ancestors. The political world. Each country is still interested in the best for the people in power then the people around them. Many other worlds. We as human individuals; with our minds, sciences, and efforts; have not solved these challenges. We need to look for different solutions.
Numbers Book Overview
|1805 b.c. (1640 b.c.)||Joseph dies|
|Slavery in Egypt
|1446 (1280)||Exodus from Egypt|
|1445 (1279)||Ten Commandments given|
|1444 (1278)||First census|
|1443 (1277)||First spy mission|
|1407 (1241)||Second census, Balaam prophesies|
|1406 (1240)||Joshua appointed, Canaan entered
|1375 (1220)||Judges begin to rule
|1050 (1045)||United kingdom under Saul|
|Purpose:||To tell the story of how Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, how they sinned and were punished, and how they prepared to try again|
|To Whom Written:||The people of Israel|
|Date Written:||1450-1410 b.c.|
|Setting:||The vast desert of the Sinai region, as well as lands just south and east of Canaan|
|Key Verses:||“Not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they tested me by refusing to listen. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will enter it” (14:22, 23).|
|Key People:||Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Caleb, Eleazar, Korah, Balaam|
|Key Places:||Mount Sinai, Promised Land (Canaan), Kadesh, Mount Hor, plains of Moab.|
Every parent knows the shrill whine of a young child—a slow, high-pitched complaint that grates on the eardrums and aggravates the soul. The tone of voice is difficult to bear, but the real irritation is the underlying cause—discontentment and disobedience. As the “children” of Israel journeyed from the foot of Mount Sinai to the land of Canaan, they grumbled, whined, and complained at every turn. They focused on their present discomforts. Faith had fled, and they added an extra 40 years to their trip.
Numbers, which records the tragic story of Israel’s unbelief, should serve as a dramatic lesson for all of God’s people. God loves us and wants the very best for us. He can and should be trusted. Numbers also gives a clear portrayal of God’s patience. Again and again he withholds judgment and preserves the nation. But his patience must not be taken for granted. His judgment will come. We must obey.
As Numbers begins, the nation of Israel was camped at the foot of Mount Sinai. The people had received God’s laws and were preparing to move. A census was taken to determine the number of men fit for military service. Next, the people were set apart for God. God was making the people, both spiritually and physically, ready to receive their inheritance.
But then the complaining began. First, the people complained about the food. Next, it was over Moses’ authority. God punished some people but spared the nation because of Moses’ prayers. The nation then arrived at Kadesh, and spies were sent into Canaan to assess its strength. Ten returned with fearful stories of giants. Only Caleb and Joshua encouraged them to “go at once to take the land” (13:30). The minority report fell on deaf ears full of the ominous message of the majority. Because of their unbelief, God declared that the present generation would not live to see the Promised Land. Thus the “wanderings” began. During these wilderness wanderings there was a continuous pattern of grumbling, defiance, discipline, and death. How much better it would have been to have trusted God and entered his land! Then the terrible waiting began—waiting for the old generation to die off and waiting to see if the new generation could faithfully obey God.
This was a time of great turmoil for Israel in which the people expressed not gratitude for deliverance from Egypt but rebellion against God. Consequently they lived out their lives in the desert.
Numbers ends as it begins, with preparation. This new generation of Israelites was numbered and sanctified. After defeating numerous armies, they settle the east side of the Jordan River. Then they faced their greatest test: to cross the river and possess the beautiful land God promised them.
The lesson is clear. God’s people must trust him, moving ahead by faith if they are to claim his promised land.
Every life is a pilgrimage.
Every person is on a journey.
Every journey has its challenges. The book of Numbers is a travel diary. Two million ex-slaves weaving their way through a desert. The trip from Egypt to the promised land can be made in nine days. It took the Israelites thirty-eight years.
What they should have done, they didn’t. And what they didn’t do, they should have. So God decided they needed some time to rethink a few things..
He took them the long way.
Maybe you’re on a detour in your journey. Things seem slow. Roads seem dark. Maybe God is wanting to teach you a few things. Pay attention.
You didn’t want to spend thirty-eight years missing the point.
Arranged around the travel itinerary of the Israelites wilderness wanderings, this book chronicles God’s action in leading his people toward the land of promise. What makes these actions truly remarkable is that they establish God’s faithfulness in spite of the people’s rebellious nature. The central human figure in all this is Moses. This extraordinary individual combines his many talents with a humble spirit to act as intermediary between his God and his people. The Book of Numbers provides us with a dramatic portrait of Moses, the Israelites, and God as they struggle to turn the disaster of the wilderness wandering into success.
|A. Preparing for the Journey (1:1–10:10)
1. The first census of the nation
2. The role of the Levites
3. The purity of the camp
4. Receiving guidance for the journey
|As part of their preparations, the Lord gave strict guidelines to the Israelites regarding purity in the camp. He wanted them to have a life-style distinct from the nations around them. He wanted them to be a holy people. Similarly, we should concern ourselves with purity in the church.|
|B. First Approach to the Promised Land (10:11–14:45)
1. The people complain
2. Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses
3. The scouts incite rebellion
|The Israelites were prevented from entering the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Throughout history, God’s people have continued to struggle with lack of faith. We must prevent unbelief from gaining a foothold in our lives, for it will keep us from enjoying the blessings that God has promised.|
|C. Wandering in the Wilderness (15:1–21:35)
1. Additional regulations
2. Many leaders rebel against Moses
3. Duties of priests and Levites
4. The new generation
|When the people complained against God and criticized Moses, they were severely punished. Over 14,000 people died as a result of rebellion against Moses. As a result of Korah’s rebellion, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and their households died, along with 250 false priests. Dissatisfaction and discontent, if allowed to remain in our lives, can easily lead to disaster. We should refrain from complaining and criticizing our leaders.|
|D. Second Approach to the Promised Land (22:1–36:13)
1. The story of Balaam
2. The second census of the nation
3. Instructions concerning offerings
4. Vengeance on the Midianites
5. The Transjordan tribes
6. Camped on the plains of Moab
|The Moabites and Midianites could not get Balaam to curse Israel, but they did get him to give advice on how to draw the Israelites to idol worship. Balaam knew what was right, but he gave in to the temptation of material rewards and sinned. Knowing what is right alone is never enough. We must also do what is right.|
|Census||Moses counted the Israelites twice. The first census organized the people into marching units to better defend themselves. The second prepared them to conquer the country east of the Jordan River.||People have to be organized, trained, and led to be effective in great movements. It is always wise to count the cost before setting out on some great undertaking. When we are aware of the obstacles before us, we can more easily avoid them. In God’s work, we must remove barriers in our relationships with others so that our effectiveness is not diminished.|
|Rebellion||At Kadesh, 12 scouts were sent out into the land of Canaan to report on the fortifications of the enemies. When the scouts returned, 10 said that they should give up and go back to Egypt. As a result, the people refused to enter the land. Faced with a choice, Israel rebelled against God. Rebellion did not start with an uprising, but with griping and murmuring against Moses and God.||Rebellion against God is always a serious matter. It is not something to take lightly, for God’s punishment for sin is often very severe. Our rebellion does not usually begin with all-out warfare, but in subtle ways—with griping and criticizing. Make sure your negative comments are not the product of a rebellious spirit.|
|Wandering||Because they rebelled, the Israelites wandered 40 years in the wilderness. This shows how severely God can punish sin. Forty years was enough time for all those who held on to Egypt’s customs and values to die off. It gave time to train up a new generation in the ways of God.||God judges sin harshly because he is holy. The wanderings in the wilderness demonstrate how serious God considers flagrant disobedience of his commands. Purging our lives of sin is vital to God’s purpose.|
|Canaan||Canaan is the Promised Land. It was the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the land of the covenant. Canaan was to be the dwelling place of God’s people, those set apart for true spiritual worship.||Although God’s punishment for sin is often severe, he offers reconciliation and hope—his love is truly amazing. Just as God’s love and law led Israel to the Promised Land, God desires to give purpose and destiny to our lives.|
Key Places in Numbers
1 Mount Sinai Numbers begins at Mount Sinai in the wilderness of Sinai with Moses taking a census of the men eligible for battle. As the battle preparations began, the people also prepared for the spiritual warfare they would face. The Promised Land was full of wicked people who would try to entice the Israelites to sin. God, therefore, taught Moses and the Israelites how to live right (1:1–12:15).
2 Wilderness of Paran After a full year at Mount Sinai, the Israelites broke camp and began their march toward the Promised Land by moving into the wilderness of Paran. From there, one leader from each tribe was sent to spy out the new land. After 40 days they returned, and all but Joshua and Caleb were too afraid to enter. Because of their lack of faith, the Israelites were made to wander in the wilderness for 40 years (12:16–19:22).
3 Kadesh With the years of wandering nearing an end, the Israelites set their sights once again on the Promised Land. Kadesh was the oasis where they spent most of their desert years. Miriam died here. And it was here that Moses angrily struck the rock, which kept him from entering the Promised Land (20).
4 Arad When the king there heard that Israel was on the move, he attacked, but he was soundly defeated. Moses then led the people southward and eastward around the Dead Sea (21:1-3).
5 Edom The Israelites wanted to travel through Edom, but the king of Edom refused them passage (20:14-22). So they traveled around Edom and became very discouraged. The people complained, and God sent poisonous snakes to punish them. Only by looking at a bronze snake on a pole could those bitten be healed (21:4-9).
6 Ammon Next, King Sihon of the Amorites refused Israel passage. When he attacked, Israel defeated his army and conquered the territory as far as the border of Ammon (21:21-32).
7 Bashan Moses sent spies to Bashan. King Og attacked, but he was also defeated (21:33-35).
8 Plains of Moab The people camped on the plains of Moab, east of the Jordan River across from Jericho. They were on the verge of entering the Promised Land (22:1).
9 Moab King Balak of Moab, terrified of the Israelites, called upon Balaam, a famous sorcerer, to curse Israel from the mountains above where the Israelites camped. But the Lord caused Balaam to bless them instead (22:2–24:25).
10 Gilead The tribes of Reuben and Gad decided to settle in the fertile country of Gilead east of the Jordan River because it was a good land for their sheep. But first they promised to help the other tribes conquer the land west of the Jordan River (32).
What have been the major “campsites” of your Christian pilgrimage? What three words might characterize the journey between each of these campsites?
Which three events do you consider the most important in your pilgrimage? How have these made you into the person you are?
What does your spiritual “map” reveal about the role God has played in your pilgrimage? How might Numbers help you to understand better God’s actions in your life?
What will you do this week to remind yourself of this?
A Father’s Wise Advice
1 My children, listen to me. Listen to your father’s instruction. Pay attention and grow wise, 2for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my teaching. 3 For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child.
4My father told me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live. 5 Learn to be wise, and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words. 6Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. 7 Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgment. 8 If you prize wisdom, she will exalt you. Embrace her and she will honor you. 9She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.”
10 My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. 11I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. 12 If you live a life guided by wisdom, you won’t limp or stumble as you run. 13 Carry out my instructions; don’t forsake them. Guard them, for they will lead you to a fulfilled life.
14Do not do as the wicked do or follow the path of evildoers. 15Avoid their haunts. Turn away and go somewhere else, 16for evil people cannot sleep until they have done their evil deed for the day. They cannot rest unless they have caused someone to stumble. 17They eat wickedness and drink violence!
18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like complete darkness. Those who follow it have no idea what they are stumbling over.
20 Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully. 21 Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, 22 for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.
24Avoid all perverse talk; stay far from corrupt speech.
25Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. 26Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. 27Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
Proverbs 4:3, 4
One of the greatest responsibilities of parents is to encourage their children to become wise. Here Solomon tells how his father, David, encouraged him to seek wisdom when he was young (see 1 Kings 2:1-9 and 1 Chronicles 28–29 for David’s charge to his son). This encouragement may have prompted Solomon to ask God for an understanding mind above everything else (1 Kings 3:9). Wisdom can be passed on from parents to children, from generation to generation. Ultimately, of course, all wisdom comes from God; parents can only urge their children to turn to him. If your parents never taught you in this way, you can learn from the Scriptures and then create a legacy of wisdom as you teach your own children.
If you want wisdom, you must decide to go after it. It takes resolve—a determination not to abandon the search once you begin, no matter how difficult the road may become. This is not a once-in-a-lifetime step but a daily process of choosing between two paths—the wicked (4:14-17, 19) and the righteous (4:18). Nothing else is more important or more valuable.
David taught Solomon as a young boy that seeking God’s wisdom was the most important choice he could make. Solomon learned the lesson well. When God appeared to the new king to fulfill any request, Solomon chose wisdom above all else. We should also make God’s wisdom our first choice. We don’t have to wait for God to appear to us. We can boldly ask him for wisdom today through prayer. James 1:5 assures us that God will grant our request.
Even friends can make you fall. It is difficult for people to accept the fact that friends and acquaintances may lure them to do wrong. Young people want to be accepted, so they would never confront or criticize a friend for wrong plans or actions. Many other people can’t see how their friends’ actions could lead to trouble. While we should be accepting of others, we need a healthy skepticism about human behavior. When you feel yourself being heavily influenced, proceed with caution. Don’t let your friends cause you to fall into sin.
Our heart—our feelings of love and desire—dictates to a great extent how we live because we always find time to do what we enjoy. Solomon tells us to guard our heart above all else, making sure we concentrate on those desires that will keep us on the right path. Make sure your affections lead you in the right direction. Put boundaries on your desires: Don’t go after everything you see. Look straight ahead, keep your eyes fixed on your goal, and don’t get sidetracked on detours that lead to sin.